Category Archives: Uncategorized

Article: “U.S. Workers Need Not Apply: Challenging Low-Wage Guest Worker Programs”

New Article: Jennifer J. Lee, “U.S. Workers Need Not Apply: Challenging Low-Wage Guest Worker Programs,” 28 Stan.L.& Pol’y Rev. (forthcoming).

With immigration reform stalled once again by United States v. Texas, many turn to the expansion of guest worker programs as a solution to our immigration woes. Low-wage foreign guest workers can fill “bad jobs” that no U.S. workers want. This article shows that guest worker programs are harmful to all low-wage workers by challenging this commonly accepted narrative and exploring how such programs create a cycle that fuels both U.S. worker shortages and the necessity for guest workers.

Scholars have amply criticized guest worker programs because they impair the rights of guest workers and contravene liberal egalitarian principles of social membership. These criticisms about how foreign workers are treated on U.S. soil, however, have been insufficient to tip the balance against these programs. What is missing from this debate is an attempt to understand why guest worker programs persist despite their many flaws. The legal framework broadly delegates power to employers to create U.S. worker shortages and the alternative of the highly productive and compliant guest worker. Cultural narratives operate to mask this reality by tying these phenomena to cultural explanations about low-wage workers. Together they create a climate that is favorable to guest worker programs.

This article’s close examination of these problems exposes why guest worker programs should not be a ready solution for immigration reform. It suggests a new approach to challenging such programs by broadening the lens to consider the plight of the U.S. worker. The U.S. worker can help shift the legal and social norms surrounding such programs by revealing how the fate of all low-wage workers is interconnected by government-enabled degradation of low-wage jobs. This approach suggests new advocacy strategies to eliminate guest worker programs in their current format in order to protect the dignity of all low-wage workers.

Article: “Earned Income Tax Credit: Path Dependence and the Blessing of Undertheorization”

Article: Michael B. Adamson, “Earned Income Tax Credit: Path Dependence and the Blessing of Undertheorization,” 65 Duke L.J. 1439 (2016).

Some commentators have lamented that the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is undertheorized—that its purpose is unclear—and that its design is therefore suboptimal. This Note explores the credit’s path-dependent past, which has resulted in a present-day EITC that manifests a diverse, uncoordinated assortment of policy purposes. Although the EITC’s ambiguity of purpose may yield policy inefficiencies, this Note argues that it also produces significant political benefits that would-be reformers who value the EITC’s many societal benefits should take into account before they attempt to enact any major overhaul.

Photography Book about Poverty in the United States: “American Realities”

Photography Book about Poverty in the United States: Joakim Eskildsen, American Realities (2014).  Sample of photos in this article.

New Articles/Essays: “Collected Essays on the Threat of Economic Inequality”

New Articles/Essays: “Collected Essays on the Threat of Economic Inequality”

Making the Dream Real
Richard R. Buery, Jr.
Insuring Civil Justice for All: Meeting the Challenges of Poverty

Honorable Fern Fisher

Income Inequality Hits Home

Steven W. Bender

Shoe Stories: Civil Rights and the Inequality of Place

Elise C. Boddie

The Price of Equal Justice: How Establishing a Right to Counsel for
People Who Face Losing Their Homes Helps Tackle Economic Inequality

Andrew Scherer

Criminal Records in the Post-“Great Society”

Michael Pinard

Shackles Beyond the Sentence: How Legal Financial Obligations Create a Permanent Underclass


Their Debt to Society

Erika L. Wood

The Overincarceration of America’s Poor: The Return of Debtor’s Prison

Reginald T. Shuford

Crime and Incarceration: A Future Fraught with Uncertainty

Ronald F. Day

Inequality and the Texas Photo ID Law

J. Gerald Hebert

Reproductive Rights and Women’s Economic Security:
Pieces of the Same Puzzle

Janet Crepps and Kelly Baden

Relative Care Within a Public Health Paradigm

Kele M. Stewart

Changing the School to Prison Pipeline:
Integrating Trauma Informed Care in the New York City School System

Ellen Yaroshefsky and Anna Shwedel

Ending Child Poverty in New York

Melanie Hartzog and Patti Banghart

Building a City of Equal Opportunity

Jennifer Jones Austin

Remarks: The New York City Human Resources Administration’s Role in
Fighting Poverty and Income Inequality and Preventing Homelessness

Steven Banks

Personal Reaction to “The New Trail of Tears”

the-new-trail-of-tears-how-washington-is-destroying-american-indians-307x460I decided to briefly respond to Naomi Schaefer Riley’s The New Trail of Tears (2016).  I had thought about doing a (scathing) book review on it, but the guru of all things Indian law, Matthew Fletcher, did a six part take down of the book on The Turtle Talk Blog that says much of what I would say.  As Fletcher writes, “DO NOT READ THIS BOOK if you are a supporter of tribal interests and the future of Indian people, unless you’re interested in learning about a game plan to send 21st century Indian people on a new trail of tears.”  He goes on:

The trap for readers is that TNToT seems like a reform minded book with deep sympathy for Indian people, with the federal government as the bad guy. It’s not. At best, TNToT is paternalism, termination era- and allotment era-style liberalism. NSR characterizes the Indians that live in Indian country as poor, alcoholic, suicidal rapists. Or really, really sad people who are always slowly shaking their heads (classic Vanishing Indian stuff). 

At worst, this is paid propaganda for conservative organizations that tend to support the view that the federal government is a terrible thing. For NSR, Indians are either victims or perpetrators, and need to be saved or punished. Finally, and in my view most importantly, TNToT throughout ignores tribal and Indian property rights, which is ironic given that NSR will frequently refer to property rights as a justification for her conclusions.

It is an incredibly bad book.  It is racist, it’s level of analysis is quite shallow, and it is something that I am surprised got published.  There are scholars who share some of the author’s views regarding the causes of the problems on Indian reservations but their work tends to be less problematic and better reasoned.  I couldn’t help but think as I read the book that if Donald Trump becomes President, the author is someone he might call to set Indian policy.  And for people of this mindset, setting Indian policy means embracing once again allotment and termination.  In other words, the book is filled with recommendations that involve stepping away from self-determination in favor of some of the worst moments in a history filled with bad moments in the relationship between Washington and Indian nations.  Naomi Schaefer Riley’s ultimate goal seems to be similar to that of Andrew Jackson’s, to have Indians go away or melt into the larger American society.  As I said, it is not a good book.

Article: Nothing Left to Lose? Changes Experienced by Detroit Low- and Moderate-Income Households During the Great Recession

Article: Michael S. Barr & Daniel Schaffa, Nothing Left to Lose? Changes Experienced by Detroit Low- and Moderate-Income Households During the Great Recession, Washington Center for Equitable Growth (Sept. 2016).

The Financial Crisis and ensuing Great Recession caused enormous hardship for households. Using original datasets, we examine the effects of the recession on a population many might think had nothing left to lose: low- and moderate-income households in the Detroit metropolitan area. We find that the Great Recession in fact imposed significant costs on these households, reducing employment and assets and increasing hardships in a wide variety of ways. Our findings suggest the need for more robust safety net policies and financial services that can help cushion the blows from sharp reductions in incomes and assets.

New Article: “Lawyers, Power, and Strategic Expertise”

New Article: Colleen F. Shanahan, Anna E. Carpenter & Alyx Mark, Lawyers, Power, and Strategic Expertise, 93 Denv. U. L. Rev. 469 (2016).  Abstract below:

This empirical study analyzes the experience of the parties described above, specifically the power, representation, and strategic expertise they bring to a dispute. Our analysis of these factors clarifies how representation may be a solution to the access to justice crisis. We find that a representative helps most parties most of the time. We also find that the other party’s representation and the representative’s strategic expertise are significant factors for understanding representation for civil litigants.

This study analyzes a database of 1,700 unemployment insurance appeals in the District of Columbia over a two-year period, the broadest and deepest collection of data about representation in recent years. The analysis shows wide disparity in representation, with employers (the more powerful party to a dispute or the quintessential “haves”) represented twice as often as claimants (the less powerful party or the “have nots”), as well as a notable difference in parties’ use of procedures in hearings. Using difference-in-proportions tests, this Article examines the interaction of party power and representation and finds that represented parties have better case outcomes than unrepresented parties, though employers see less benefit from legal representation than claimants. In addition, the Article confirms the intuitive result that represented parties are more likely to use procedures than unrepresented parties. Yet, surprisingly, the Article finds that represented claimants who use certain evidentiary procedures have worse case outcomes than represented claimants who do not use those same procedures.

We recommend that any policy solution to the country’s civil litigation crisis, whether it is a right to civil counsel, unbundled legal services, lay advocacy, or pro se court reform, must account for these factors. To achieve this goal, we call for a deeper understanding of representation in context.

News Article: “Hillary Clinton is proposing a policy to tackle deep poverty”

News Article: Dylan Matthews, “Hillary Clinton is proposing a policy to tackle deep poverty,” Vox, Oct. 11, 2016.


Job Posting: Rutgers Law School

Rutgers Law School seeks candidates with a demonstrated commitment to social justice, as reflected in their scholarship and research, for tenured-faculty positions in its Newark location.  Candidates should have a record of excellence in legal scholarship, teaching, and institutional service.  Experience in legal practice, policy advocacy, or other forms of applied research related to social justice is also a plus.  The Law School values faculty diversity and strongly encourages candidates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to apply.

This hiring initiative is funded by the Rutgers University-Newark (RU-N) Chancellor to enhance the university’s strategic plan (see here) of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement across RU-N’s academic departments and to promote RU-N’s role as an anchor institution that leverages its scholarly expertise and civic interest to advance opportunity in and around the greater Newark metropolitan area.  Thus, candidates ideally should have an interest in participating in cross-disciplinary initiatives within RU-N, in partnering with communities and organizations outside the university, and/or in advancing opportunity in and around the greater Newark metropolitan area.

Interested candidates should send a CV and a list of references by November 1, 2016 to the attention of Mary Anne Moore,

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UDC Law Review Symposium Call for Papers


Our Topic: The topic of the 2017 UDC Law Review Symposium addresses the effects of current business policies on vulnerable communities, particularly the poor and people of color.

Possible topics may include:

  • Social, health, and community costs of environmental deregulation and self-reporting.
  • Human and economic impacts of privatizing criminal justice services, including private prisons, bail services, immigration detention, and community monitoring.
  • Hidden costs of privatizing public utilities.
  • Discriminatory impacts of deregulating the financial services industries.
  • Economic and social costs of privatizing and deregulating education.

Additionally, the Symposium will examine the ongoing impact of lobbying and legislative efforts to address these cost inequities, as well as public policies and strategies for countering these negative effects.

The Law Review’s editorial board invites submissions on topics exploring ways in which society at large subsidizes corporations, with disproportionate impacts on low-income people and people of color. Submissions from academics and practitioners are invited and welcomed.  To be considered for inclusion in the 2017 Symposium Edition, please send an abstract (300-word limit) of your proposed paper to, with Attn: Jessica Christy in the subject line.